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The latest electric car charging innovations

We examine the new solutions that are improving both the speed of charging at public locations and the public's ability to top up in the street...

Audi E-tron at Ionity electric car charging station

Faster charging

The Ionity network is the result of a joint venture between BMW, Daimler (which owns Mercedes and Smart), Ford and the Volkswagen Group and aims to create an ultra-rapid charging network across Europe. Its chargers can replenish batteries at 350kW, a rate so fast that no electric vehicle (EV) can accept it yet. When they catch up, they’ll be able to get a boost from 10-80% in 20 minutes.

So far, Ionity has 202 charging stations live around Europe, and it expects to increase this to 400 by the end of the year. There are only three sites in the UK at present, but it plans to have 40 by the end of 2020.

Ionity chargers cost 69p per kWh to use, but Audi has just launched an EV charging service to make using them more affordable for owners of its E-tron SUV. The charging service’s Transit tariff costs £16.95 a month and gives access to 18 charging networks, including Ionity, at a reduced rate of 28p per kWh.

Tesla has also started to beef up its Superchargers to V3 units, more than doubling their maximum charging speed to 250kW. Only one location has been upgraded so far, but others will follow. These allow a Model 3 to gain 75 miles’ worth of charge in five minutes. Shell has started to introduce 150kW rapid chargers, too.

Electric car lamp-post charging

Lamp-post charging

German company Ubitricity has recently launched in the UK, where it’s concentrating on smart charging solutions that take up less space than conventional public chargers. It’s working with local councils to install 5.5kW chargers into lamp-posts on urban streets.

To use these, EV owners have to buy the firm’s smart charging cable at a cost of £149. It contains a meter to measure the amount of electricity being used and communication technology to share this information with the user’s electricity supplier.

So far, it has installed 2000 lamp-post chargers, most of them in Greater London. It aims to install 7500 by the end of the year.

Pop-up electric car charging point

Pop-up chargers

British start-up company Urban Electric Networks is currently running a pilot test of six on-street chargers in Oxford that pop up out of the pavement when someone wants to use one to charge their car.

It says the prototype offers a convenient charging solution for the 50% of residents who park their cars on the street at night.

It intends to install two more hubs, each with nine chargers, in the next year in Dundee and Plymouth, prior to putting the units into commercial production in 2021.

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